Saturday Specials In England, Italy And Spain

Saturday is usually a day for a couple fixtures as Sunday is obviously the busiest match day. However, Saturday gave us three surprises on three continents. Four potential domestic title contenders stumbled on Saturday. Three lost games they should have won while one gave up a two goal lead in stoppage time. The two biggest shockers of the day came from clubs that were promoted to their country's first division just this season.

In Spain, Hercules, who have not played in La Liga since finishing 21st in the old system in 1996/97, went to the Camp Nou and defeated Barcelona 2-0. The Blaugrana were not resting anybody for their Champions League clash with Panathinaikos on Tuesday, but failed to find the net as Nelson Valdez netted twice in his debut for the visitors. Juan Calatayud was incredible in the goal for Hercules, making nine saves as Barcelona fired everything they had at the keeper in the last half hour or so, but the hero never faltered.

Italian giants and potential Scudetto favorites AC Milan fell to promoted side Cesena, who have not played in Serie A in 19 years. On the day of the much anticipated debuts of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Robinho, Milan were unable to get the points at the Dino Manuzzi. The home side got two in the first half and Milan could never get it going. Ronaldinho was subbed not even an hour into the match in favor of Robinho. Ibrahimovic could have got the Rossoneri within one with about six minutes left, but the Swede watched his penalty shot smash against the post. Cesena didn't care about the debuts of Ibrahimovic and Robinho, as they shocked Milan at the Dino Manuzzi. With the loss, Milan fall to fourth as Cesena jump to second.

Also in Italy, outside contenders for the title, AS Roma, were a chew toy for Cagliari, as the Sardinians enjoyed a 5-1 victory at the San Ella. Daniele Conti, Robert Acquafresca, and Andrea Lazzari had one each while Alessandro Matri earned a brace in the thrashing of the Romans. Daniele de Rossi scored the only goal for Roma, who outshot Cagliari 17-12, but had six shots on goal to seven. It was only 1-0 in the 22nd minute when Nicolas Burdisso took down Conti in the area, earning a straight red card. From that point, Cagliari dominated the attacking third. Roma stay put at 1 point after the loss. They opened the season with a 0-0 draw with Cesena. They are now in fourteenth while Cagliari are now top dogs in Serie A after two matches.

In England, the damage was not as bad for Manchester United, but was probably the most heartbreaking. Holding a 3-1 lead over Everton heading into the stoppage time of the second half, United let in goals from Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta as the Toffees earned a 3-3 draw at Goodison Park. Bafana Bafana international Steven Pienaar put the host on top in the 39th, but the lead was short lived as Darren Fletcher netted in the 43rd. Second half goals from Nemanja Vidic and Dimitar Berbatov put United up 3-1 by the 66th minute. At that point, it seemed the three points were theirs.

The thing about football, anything is possible, even two stoppage time goals. The draw does not do much to help Everton though, as they are still in eighteenth in the Premier League. Meanwhile, Manchester United now sit two points behind second place Arsenal and four behind current champions Chelsea. Even with the 3-1 win, United would have been third, as Arsenal have the goal difference.

Still, I would not fret if I was a fan of Barcelona, Milan, Roma, or Manchester United. The season is young. One loss will not ruin the entire season. There is still plenty of time in which they can earn themselves a domestic league trophy.

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